Science/Rhetoric

By: Brandyn Mark
Science purports universal truths. A seemingly noble endeavor for one to dedicate themselves to, it aims to separate fact from fiction and improve our understanding. Surely this discipline is removed from rhetoric? I feel that idea is probably intended, but in actuality far from the truth.

There always seems to be some confusion with the distinction between laws and theories. In the hierarchal scientific structure a theory holds a higher position then a law. A law defines natural phenomena through empirical observation, a theory is a body of evidence thats supports and proves the law (however not to a 100% truth, gravity has a theory to correspond with the law). However infallible the theory may be (gravity) we need to remember it was made by something far more capable of error. Humans.

It was not to long ago that society mostly believed the sun revolves around the earth. They acquired data (evidence) and it became common knowledge. Now we know a little bit better, but scientists back then got theories across much like we do today, through rhetoric. Persuasion, making one take a side based on purported fact. I find myself believing things more or less because it was told to me by someone in a higher position. The universal processes i hold to be true are indeed more fallible then I would care to consciously admit.

In our lives we often ignore things we do not want to hear, this hold true to the people who craft these theories as well. How much information was discounted because it completely contradicted their beliefs? What did they turn a blind eye to do to religion or societal values? How much common knowledge is skewed by the observer? I would say that a large amount of things we hold true have received their place at the top through rhetoric.

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One thought on “Science/Rhetoric

  1. I think the beauty of the internet & information age is that proving something becomes less about rhetoric and more about validity of sources and argument.

    The anonymity of the internet is the “great equalizer”, allowing each user to craft an argument that is just as valid as the next user. It allows people who might usually take for granted a position, or might not normally argue, to retort easily and without barriers, placing the burden of proof firmly on the arguer.

    Because of the rapid proliferation of information, we trust our civil or professional “superiors” less and less.

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